The online world is going from strength to strength. Courtesy of digital technologies, businesses have all they need to access their target market and make their company a global success without the limitations of a traditional bricks and mortar store.
For all the plus-points of operating online however come a bevy of challenges, many of which involve your cyber security. Businesses big and small are being targeted by cybercriminals, hackers and fraudsters that are looking to cause your company reputational damage, financial harm or both. Bolstering your cyber defences is therefore the key to operating safely and securely online, and safeguarding your business’s reputation and finances in the process.
Penetration testing should be a vital part of every business’s cyber security strategy. Here we explore what penetration tests are all about and why they are beneficial to your company not just now but throughout the lifespan of your business.
What is penetration testing?
A penetration test – often referred to as a ‘pen test’ – is a simulated cyber-attack that’s performed on your computer system, web application and/or wider network. It’s designed to detect the weaknesses of your organisation’s cyber defences so you can identify and minimise or even eliminate these vulnerabilities before a cybercriminal exploits them.
Why should I have a penetration test?
Your penetration test should be completed by an experienced cyber security consultant who will complete the pen test on your behalf before presenting you with its findings.
Thanks to penetration testing, you can pinpoint security holes in your system and recognise potential vulnerabilities. These findings can be used to develop a more reliable, robust system, application or network leaving you in a stronger position to defend your business against cybercrime.
How often should pen testing be completed?
Penetration testing should be undertaken on a regular basis to ensure your cyber defences remain as iron clad as possible.
The techniques used by cybercriminals are continuously evolving, and they’re getting more sophisticated by the day, which means your system has to be prepared for the latest. Regular pen testing ensures your system, app or network can be attacked with the latest and greatest hacking techniques, and new loopholes identified and closed quickly.
Penetration testing should certainly not be treated as a one-off. But how often you test will depend on the size of your organisation, the finer details of your infrastructure, your budget, and the rules and regulations that are applicable to your business.
When’s the right time to test?
If your company is currently developing a network or system, the timing of your first penetration test has to be just right. If you deploy a new system or network and test too early, you may prevent all vulnerabilities from being successfully identified.
It’s recommended that a pen test is commissioned before a system or network has been deployed to ensure it can be assessed thoroughly and enhanced securely without putting your company, its customers and your data at risk.
Any changes to your company’s infrastructure will also mean it’s time to retest. Although testing annually without reason will keep your company and customer data safe and secure for the long haul.